Thursday, December 13, 2012

Merry Christmas, Old Man

    (photo by Scott Snyder)

Dear Dad,

It is almost Christmas and I miss you terribly. You have been gone - where to, exactly? World's longest fishing trip?? - for over four years now. Which is ridiculous. Don't you realize I am verging on child #2, a BOY, and you are missing it? You really should consider popping back in for a few months' visit...

I am missing you this Christmas because time is slipping away from me to do all the holiday fun things I want to do (not the least of which reasons is my enormous pregnancy), and everyone around me seems to be in a rather grinchy mood, and just in general, I miss your love of this time and your sense of wonder. Which somehow I inherited. And miss sharing it with you.

You were known for buying extravagant (and ridiculous?) presents for your granddaughters, Anna and Emma, shoving them away in the front closet where Mom never looks, and then wrapping them yourself and pulling out this massive pile of gifts for under the tree on Christmas Eve when everyone was asleep. We always got presents from Mom and Dad, but we knew there would be at least one special one from just Dad, that no one knew about. Something you had specially gone and picked out, something pricey or classy. And of course the price wasn't the point, but that was how you showed your love. According to the "Five Languages of Love," you were the gift giver.

You would gripe and grouch at Mom for the whole month of December, getting a bit of Grinch stuck in your soul for whatever the annual reason was...then come out with some precious rock in a tiny box for her on Christmas morning. I don't know if she thought that made up for everything previous...but it did always express your undying love for her, at least to me. I knew that you never bought a piece of jewelry out of obligation or "being in the doghouse," but you bought many special things for her out of the generous outpouring of your heart. You were full to the brim with love.

I miss the traditions we all had, like the things the "morning people" did when everyone else was asleep. I of course tried to miss them all at the time, but now, as you may know, I am UP at those ungodly hours - being a mom and all - and now I could actually TALK to you over a morning coffee, or do a Sudoku while you worked a crossword, waiting for everyone else to arise. You could be having those hysterical bonding play moments with Miss Lucinda like you used to have with Anna - special trips out for pancakes ("just the two of us") or playing "preacher" and giving her your humanist/atheist version of a sermon, or making loop pot holders. Which the kids still do. Lucinda is all about morning talks and sharing breakfast treats. You would be in heaven and I would love seeing it.

I miss you insisting on reading "The Night Before Christmas" on Xmas Eve, no matter what other games/activities/mayhem the girls had planned for the evening. I miss you reading "The Owl on Christmas Morn," your most precious poem about your father, every Christmas morning since his death, over twenty years ago...and how every SINGLE year, you and I STILL get choked up over it, and weep - for just a minute - into our orange juice. I miss your sense of family = an aggravating pile of people loaded into the house that you want to get away from (but are sad and lonely if a single one does not show up that year). I miss your generosity and hosting of the festive season.

You loved a party. You needed your "cave time" before and after. You relished the Christmas well as a six-stack of Oreos (just as sacred) with glass of milk, taken down to the Man Cave. You would wear holiday colors to the occasions, take the kids (even if they were snotty and sick) out to see Christmas lights, and build an eight-inch snowman with your granddaughter (so she wouldn't be afraid of the full-size one).

Dear god, how am I supposed to live the rest of my life without you? I miss you every day, Dad. But especially at this time of year. You implanted so many precious goals and inspired dreams, unattainable expectations for others, and a sense of magic and love that will last my entire life. I hope I can impart these to Lucy and Jack. I hope we can remember your spirit every year for the next sixty or so. I hope you can feel my love and know my heart.

Because it is with you. Wherever you may be. "Merry Christmas to all [you], and to all [you] a good night!"

I love you.

(photo by Scott Snyder)

(photo by Steven Johnson)